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Old 11.09.2012, 21:20
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Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Hello everyone.

I know this forum is about Switzerland, but I think many members here are originally from England or have lived there, so thougth I would give it a try and ask for some tips here.

I've never been to London so I really dont know where to start and what to expect, besides I dont know anyone there. My stay will be short (3 months) and I would like to figure things out before arriving so I can actually get the most out of this experience and make sure it goes as smooth as posible.

I've been searching arround the internet of course and read touristy stuff, but there's always that little something that we wished someone would have told us, and that only the locals know (or at least I had a lot of that in the past countries I've lived) so if you think of something please share!

I think the accomodation issue and that kind of thing I have it covered, but I also wanted to ask if there is any discount card ot monthly pass for public transport that would make it a bit less expensive to move arround? what are your favorite places for food shopping and for other basics? do you know of any expat comunity/groups like this one with forums, events, clasifieds, etc? I know Gumtree but I would also like something more interactive and social.

And well my message is getting way too long but please dont hesitate in sharing anything you think may be helpful, thank you in advance and for reading this long, wish you all a good week!
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Old 11.09.2012, 21:29
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Have a look for the London Meet Up groups. www.meetup.com
and www.londonmeetup.com
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Old 11.09.2012, 21:39
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Regarding getting around, Transport for London is a good place to start.

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

Checkout TravelCards and Oyster (click on Tickets from top menu bar)
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Old 11.09.2012, 21:44
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Have fun!!!!!

For travel, get yourself an Oyster card, cost about £6 I think, and cheapest way to travel, purchased at most main stations and some newsagents/kiosk I believe. Works on a tap out tap in basis, when topped with credit. Start with £30 or so, see how you do.

Remember when travelling to stand on right of the escalator, like some attempt here. You won't be forgiven in London with someone patiently waiting, you will be told to please move and/or just moved. Observe the crowd at platforms too, people allow people off public transport and form a nice tunnel, and board on a first come first serve basis. Do not attempt walking through that tunnel for the disembarking passengers.

You may be surprised to hear very little English. But everyone in customer service will speak English.

Look out for Tesco for cheap supermarket shopping, can present itself in supermarket or elaborate petrol station form. Co-op, not to be confused with Coop price wise though virtually the same is also recommended and may be more frequently seen.

You won't find many bins, we're scared of bombs.

Drink in weatherspoons pubs for best value drink and food, though value is not quality and food can vary, but generally ok.

Where are you staying in London? Is it for work?
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Old 11.09.2012, 22:08
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

You have found the EF in Switzerland, now here is the DiL for London. Take plenty of Ovalmaltine chocolate spread, they love it.

http://www.deutsche-in-london.net/forum/
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Old 11.09.2012, 22:15
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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You have found the EF in Switzerland, now here is the DiL for London. Take plenty of Ovalmaltine chocolate spread, they love it.

http://www.deutsche-in-london.net/forum/
In the absence of any personal details about the OP, I would still guess that they should be taking bacon, unsalted butter and Carlsberg.
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Old 11.09.2012, 22:32
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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I would still guess that they should be taking bacon, unsalted butter and Carlsberg.
You can easily buy all those in London. But no Ovalmaltine chocky sauce, (It's like Nutella).
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Old 11.09.2012, 22:38
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Watch out! The food is cheap and full of flavour. You could consider having some Swiss emmental flown out to you on a regular basis, to ensure that you're spending the right amount on tasteless produce.

After you've spent a couple of hours in the basement, don't forget to go back to your apartment to wash your clothes.

Public transport timetables are a great way to introduce yourself to British works of fiction.

If someone smiles at you, don't throw a straight-jacket on them and cart them off to hospital; the locals consider it normal behaviour.
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Old 11.09.2012, 23:39
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

If you are on FaceBook, then take a look at this page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Londo...24203727612545 - for some excellent ideas and tips on all sorts of free stuff around London.

For food and other shopping, do have a look at an Asda store if you get a chance. We shopped in one in May this year and were blown over by all the items - especially groceries - on sale for £1.00. It was like being in a cost cutters Wonderland and we sure got our money's worth!
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Old 11.09.2012, 23:51
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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If someone smiles at you, don't throw a straight-jacket on them and cart them off to hospital; the locals consider it normal behaviour.
That's definitely not true in London! If someone smiles at you in London he/she is either a foreigner who hasn't been in London for long or much more likely someone who wants money from you.

And the only food that's tasty in London is non-British food (Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, whatever...).

And get used to claustrophobic room and flat/house sizes and separate hot and cold water taps (which either burn or freeze your hands), decades old worn out carpet flooring everywhere (often even in the bathrooms, eek!) and draughty, badly heated houses.

And after you have used the tube, blow your nose to get out out the grime you breathed in (you will find the tissue will turn black).
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Old 11.09.2012, 23:58
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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That's definitely not true in London! If someone smiles at you in London he/she is either a foreigner who hasn't been in London for long or more likely someone who wants money from you.
Not true. I live(d) in central London. Maybe you walk around Canary Wharf or Liverpool Street.
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And the only food that's tasty in London is non-British food (Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, whatever...).
OK, so you've never visited. Try the Wolseley for breakfast, Porters in Covent Garden for traditional British dinners (especially their pies) and desserts. Fish & chips from North Sea (Leigh Street) or the Golden Hind (Marylebone). Afternoon tea in many places (Ritz if you've a suit. Any meal at Claridges. The cafe/restaurant within Selfridges (mezanine floor). etc.
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And get used to claustrophobic room and flat/house sizes and separate hot and cold water taps (which either burn or freeze your hands), decades old worn out carpet flooring everywhere (often even in the bathrooms, eek!)..
If you travel back 10 years, sure. Or deliberately rent somewhere small and that hasn't been modernised. Instead you could marvel at the normal sized fridge, the heating with timer controls, the character of some buildings, the washing machine, and the crap windows, lack of balcony, lack of soundproofing (OK, so I'm losing this one).
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And after you have used the tube, blow your nose to get out out the grime you breathed in (you will find the tissue gets black).
it's not grime; it's dust generated by the friction of the metal wheels on metal tracks. Of course you could just cycle. But then your nose really would be full of grime. But then I don't care too much what colour my bogeys are. I'm not collecting them.
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Old 12.09.2012, 00:00
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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That's definitely not true in London! If someone smiles at you in London he/she is either a foreigner who hasn't been in London for long or much more likely someone who wants money from you.

And the only food that's tasty in London is non-British food (Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, whatever...).

And get used to claustrophobic room and flat/house sizes!
Can't see you donning an " I love London " t-shirt anytime soon!

Outta curiousity, are you from there? If not, how long were you there for?
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Old 12.09.2012, 00:09
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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OK, so you've never visited.
Not visited, only lived there for almost 10 years...
I'm not regretting it, London has good points too, but now I'm glad to be here in the civilised CH.

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If you travel back 10 years, sure. Or deliberately rent somewhere small and that hasn't been modernised.
Actually new-builts are the worst, they even use special reduced size furniture in showroom flats to deceive the buyers!
The only houses with decent room sizes are unconverted Victorian houses (if there are any unconverted ones left...).

Quote:
it's not grime; it's dust generated by the friction of the metal wheels on metal tracks.
Trust me it's grime, I remember reading an article in the Evening Standard or the Metro from someone who had analysed the air quality in the tube and the result was that a typical 5 days a week commute with the tube is equivalent to smoking a pack of fags with regards to the toxins and pollutants you breath in.
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Old 12.09.2012, 00:12
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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Actually new-builts are the worst, they even use special reduced size furniture in showroom flats to deceive the buyers!
The only houses with decent room sizes are unconverted Victorian houses (if there are any unconverted ones left...).


Trust me it's grime, I remember reading an article in the Evening Standard or the Metro from someone who had analysed the air quality in the tube and the result was that a typical 5 days a week commute with the tube is equivalent to smoking a pack of fags with regards to the toxins and pollutants you breath in.
The best buys, in my opinion (probably cos I have one) are ex council flats in very small blocks (i.e. not on estates). My mid 50's built place has large rooms, is solid and well sound proofed. Much better than the 70's block I live in here, in Basel. Except I have a balcony here. Which I love.

As for the grime ... ouch. I read it was all just friction dust. I cycled to/from the office every time I worked in London anyway. So my nose was full of diesel soot
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Old 12.09.2012, 00:24
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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I cycled to/from the office every time I worked in London anyway. So my nose was full of diesel soot
Cycling behind an older black cab or bus is especially fun!
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Old 12.09.2012, 00:36
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Ooo more stuff:

Museums are often free, and there are a few large beautiful parks and grass and trees in London. Yes, trees

You will taste, more than likely, real sausages and hash browns.

Avoid black cabs, they can be pricey, though granted you can get anywhere for the price of a round of drinks here. A cab ride can often lead to a good story though.

Try and venture the various markets, Borough food market is great.

If you are into alcohol fuelled food your choices are endless, when you leave the club, yes, Food at 4am. The biggest greasiest Kebab you'll ever see.

Stay away from the Thames tho
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Old 12.09.2012, 03:03
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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Trust me it's grime, I remember reading an article in the Evening Standard or the Metro from someone who had analysed the air quality in the tube and the result was that a typical 5 days a week commute with the tube is equivalent to smoking a pack of fags with regards to the toxins and pollutants you breath in.
Almost like standing on a Zurich train platform in rush hour 5 days per week...

And, clearly, the Standard doesn't remember what the 'Fleet' in the 'Fleet River', which is now also underground, was named for.

London is like NYC, only with better English, fewer guns and no decent bagels (though the coffee is better nowadays).
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Old 12.09.2012, 03:11
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Do they stare in London?
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Old 12.09.2012, 09:46
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

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Do they stare in London?
No, they even don't look at you when talking to you.
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Old 13.09.2012, 01:13
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Re: Tips for an expat-to-be in London?

Wow thanks a lot! I didnt spect that many replies so quick.. I got the feeling I will love the british sense of humor, and the people even more
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